Thursday, August 13, 2015


Last week I spoke of drawing clouds when first pursuing my master's degree. While those first cloud sketches were tentative and essentially directionless, they somehow opened a world of ideas that were totally unexpected. Some, like the little "Shazam" moment here on the left, led to a series of cartoon-like works that still give me a chuckle whenever I come across them, whether in my files or on a collector's wall.

That "Shazam" requires a tip of the hat to  C. C. Beck, the creator of Billy Batson, the big city newsboy who could become "Captain Marvel" by uttering the magic word "Shazam!". (No, there was no App then!)  He first appeared in Fawcett's 1940 Whiz Comics and became an instant hit. I liked it because unlike its rival hero "Superman" or the darker "Batman" the series had a real sense of humor, even a bit of silliness at times. I was hooked when I picked up the latest Captain Marvel at Verdi's corner store and found him facing an evil little worm named "Mr. Mind"!  Hey, I was 6 or 7 years old!  Now, I wonder, was that comic worm an unrecognized influence as I started a major series of drawings those many years later?

Of course, being a visual person, I like most artists had many influences. Early in my career a young children's book illustrator hit the market with a fine bit of fantasy that still sells today.  Loving to draw, I took one look at the pen work in Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" and found a medium and for a while, a direction. Tho' I never saw it in the past,  I can see a connection now between this soft "cloud" plane and a certain Sendak aircraft aloft "In the Night Kitchen".

This image represents a next step in an intense period of creative work at SUNY and beyond. It retains some "comic" aspects in those antic "worms" but moves in a slightly more serious direction where my visual statements were variously ambiguous or pointed.  I did many versions of this kind of image  while they grew in size and intensity, ending up as thirty to fifty hour  meticulously cross-hatched ink drawings - strong images that that earned me the title "Dirty Doodler" - conferred by an Albany columnist who viewed my masters show at the SUNY Albany Galleries in 1971. It didn't take much in those days to raise the ire of those defending "The Public Good" ! 

 To be continued:

"Even the most innocent images can send subliminal messages of an erotic nature."   Julie R. Jones

"When inspiration doesn't come, I go halfway to meet it."   Sigmund Freud


  1. Painting clouds completely befuddles me. I'm going to flip over to your painting website to see how to do it right. Love the puffy airplane!

  2. I like that one too - the cloud with the squiggly things under it. Pen work is lovely.